Frequently Asked Questions
Click below for questions on our FAQ topics
What are the course timings?
Small Animal Medicine & Small Animal Surgery
Attendance on the taught modules is typically once monthly on a weekday between 2.00pm and 8.00pm however, where there are case-based discussion webinars or practical sessions these times may vary.
All other Postgraduate programmes
Attendance on the taught modules is from 9.30am-17.00pm.
Practical Surgery & Ultrasound Courses
|Day 1||Day 2|
|9.00am Registration||8.30am Registration|
|9.30am Course starts||9.00 Course starts|
|17.00 Course finishes||16.30 Course finishes|
Nurse Certificate programmes
9.30am Course starts
17.00 Course finishes
9.00am Course starts
17.30 Course finishes
Tell me more about Improve International
Improve International was established in 1998 by a group of veterinary surgeons from across the UK, including a number of recognised experts. We provide the highest quality CPD in a format that allows you to develop your skills and knowledge in a logical and progressive fashion, under the supervision of dedicated Course Directors, each of whom has the highest qualifications in his or her field.
Our courses are run in venues across the UK and also in a number of other countries including Spain, Portugal and Italy.
Who are Improve’s partners?
We are in partnership with Harper Adams University (HAU) and the International School of Veterinary Postgraduate Studies (ISVPS) to ensure the highest academic standards.
Harper Adams University
Founded in 1901, HAU has a long, proud tradition of the highest educational standards and is widely recognised for the quality of its education. HAU validate Improve’s PgC programmes and ensures the teaching elements and examination processes meet the highest academic standards.
Is an awarding body who accredits and awards veterinary qualifications. They provide assessments in the form of assignments and examinations for all programmes.
Does course attendance go towards my CPD hours?
Yes. You will receive a certificate of attendance for every course attended which you can use towards your CPD hours.
What is a Postgraduate Certificate (PgC)?
The PgC is a university qualification which provides 60 academic credits. The qualification is positioned at masters level seven within the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) framework for higher and further education. The 60 credits can be used towards achieving a PgD 120 credits and a Masters degree which represents 180 credits at level seven. The PgC is a recognised academic qualification which will demonstrate that you have achieved a certain standard in that subject.
What is the criteria for enrolment?
All applicants must:
- Hold a veterinary qualification
- Have spent a minimum of one year in veterinary practice
- UK-based applicants must also be on the RCVS Home Practising Register, whilst applicants based outside the UK must hold a qualification that would entitle them to register as a member of the RCVS
Additionally, UK-based veterinary surgeons who qualified from 2007 onwards must have completed the RCVS Professional Development Phase (PDP) before they can enrol.
Over what time period can I take the taught modules?
You can take up to 3 years to spread your taught modules.
Are Improve’s Postgraduate Certificates academically equivalent to the RCVS CertAVP and other postgraduate certificates?
Yes. Each PgC is a recognised higher education qualification as validated by Harper Adams University. The qualification represents Level 7 (Masters) within the QAA Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. It provides 60 transferable academic credits at this level. The qualifications are therefore, by definition, academically equivalent.
I have previously achieved a GPCert. Can I use this towards a PgC?
You are able to “upgrade” from a GPCert to a PgC within 5 years of the GPCert exam date. Please contact ISVPS for further information – ISVPS.
Is my practice suitable for studying towards a postgraduate certificate?
As a guide we suggest that you consider the following when deciding if you think the facilities, equipment and procedures and their role in the practice will support their studies.
- Number of patients, species distribution and range of conditions seen should allow student to gain experience across the whole syllabus during the study period
- Either a manual of computerised system of patient records, allowing accurate recording, storage and retrieval of information
- Facilities to hospitalise patients and arrangements for OOH care
- Equipment and facilities to conduct radiographic examinations and ultrasound should be available within the practice or on referral. Access to CT/MRI equipment is not a requirement
- Suitable equipment for administration of oxygen and safe maintenance of anaesthesia
- Disinfection and sterilisation procedures in place which are suitable for the work undertaken
- Medicines are stored, prescribed and dispensed appropriately.
Where are the taught programmes held?
Our Medicine and Surgery programmes are held at various locations in the UK; Swindon, Hatfield and Sheffield. We have excellent wet-lab facilities in Swindon and Sheffield, with state-of-the-art practical training equipment and technology.
Our Clinical Postgraduate Programmes are held at our Swindon training centre and some at our Sheffield training centre – see www.improveinternational.com/uk/pgc for further information.
To find out more about our venues, click here: https://www.improveinternational.com/uk/venue/
How are Improve’s PgC programmes different to other providers?
Improve’s modular training programmes have been developed over a period of 20 years and are taught by world-renowned experts in their field. They successfully blend theoretical lectures with hands-on practical sessions where appropriate and delegates also have access to valuable online learning components.
How many hours will I spend on my certificate?
A PgC comprises 600 hours of notional study. This is typically made up of the following:
- 100 hours of taught sessions and ten hours of practical experience for Small Animal Medicine
- 70 hours of taught sessions and 48 hours of practical experience for Small Animal Surgery
- 82-94 hours preparing for and reflecting on the taught sessions. This includes pre and post course online evaluation and self-reflection
- 200 hours of independent study, including the preparation and writing of assignments
- 200 hours preparing for final examination
How will I be assessed?
At the beginning of the programme you will receive a syllabus and specific learning objectives for all of the taught modules.
During the programme you will be required to document your current knowledge and skills prior to each module and undertake an informal short multiple-choice exercise. After the module you will then undertake a further multiple choice exercise to reflect on knowledge gained and implement a strategy to address any outstanding knowledge and skills gaps via independent study.
ISVPS provide the assessments, please refer to the Postgradute Certificate area for more information.
The final examination takes place yearly covering the course syllabus. You must have attended all modules to be entered for the final exam.
What resources will be available to support me through the PgC?
All delegates will receive a subscription to Harper Adam’s online e-library providing access to 1,000s of scientific articles and abstracts.
Medicine delegates will be provided with Improve International’s Manual of Small Animal Medicine Vol 1 and 2 and Surgery delegates with Improve International’s Manual of Small Animal Surgery Vol 1 and 2.
The Improve Learning Management System (LMS) provides access to a notes library, discussion forum and other study resources including webinars.
A dedicated Programme Tutor will support every individual during their PgC programme to ensure a rewarding and successful learning journey.
More information can be found on our Learning Support page
ISVPS will also provide support with assignments.
Will Improve’s PgCs enable me to apply for the RCVS Advanced Practitioner Status?
After you have successfully obtained your Postgraduate Certificate you can apply for the RCVS Advanced Practitioner Status. This is subject to meeting all of the other entry requirements set out by the RCVS in the Applicant Guidance Notes.
The following programmes are recognised PgCs enabling you to apply for the RCVS Advanced Practitioner Status:
Small Animal Medicine, Small Animal Surgery, Ophthalmology, Dermatology, Feline Practice, Exotic Animal Practice, Cardiology, Diagnostic Imaging and Emergency Medicine & Surgery.
* Currently the RCVS does not list Endoscopy & Endosurgery as a designated Advanced Practitioner subject so it is not possible to apply for the Advanced Practitioner Status. Dentistry and Oral Surgery is pending registration with the RCVS as a designated Advanced Practitioner Status subject.
For Small Animal Medicine and Small Animal Surgery, there is an additional requirement for evidence of Professional Key Skills CPD, access to this will be provided at the end of your programme. There will be an additional fee to complete this with Harper Adams University, please contact us for more information.
For further information please see RCVS website.
How can I fit a modular CPD programme into my busy life?
Our PgC programmes are flexible to try to enable you to fit study in to busy practice life. With our Clinical PgCs, we have tried to ensure two modules are offered back-to-back for the duration of the course to reduce your travel time and costs and make the learning experience more immersive. With our Medicine and Surgery PgCs, these are run every month from 2-8pm, therefore reducing the amount of time out of practice.
I want to register on a modular course but I may be away for some of the modules. Does this mean I will miss out?
No. We understand that you are busy professionals and aim to be as flexible as possible.
Whilst we need advance notice if you are going to be unable to attend a particular module, we will make every effort to find you an alternative venue and date. If the alternative dates don’t suit, you can attend the missed module when the programme runs the following year. The only restriction is that you need to attend all of the taught modules before you can sit the relevant ISVPS examination.
Online Bitesize CPD
Where do I login to access Online Bitesize CPD?
On the homepage of this website, click the link which says “Sign In”. A drop down list of CPD areas will display, select Bitesize.
I have forgotten my website login username – how do I retrieve this?
If you have forgotten your website username please contact us using firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 01793 759159.
I am having issues with logging into my account?
The username for your account will be the email address you provided when signing up to our Bitesize online CPD. You would have been sent an email containing the case sensitive password within 24 hours of signing up to Bitesize. You can copy and paste the password into the password box.
I have not received an email with my login details?
Login details take 24 hours to be processed, if you have not received an email please do check your trash or junk folder in your email account as some servers do default this email into either folder. If you still have no password after 24 hours; please do contact Improve International via email@example.com or (01793) 759159 for your password to be resent to you.
I am having technical issues with the Bitesize site or an individual course
Bitesize has its own support service, whether it is help with using the platform or perhaps a technical issue. To access this please login to the Bitesize platform and click on the support tab on the top bar, here you will have an option to choose either: How to use Bitesize or the Technical Support Forum.
Can I pay by Direct Debit?
What payment methods do you accept?
For all one and two-day courses payment is due upon registration. Payments can be made by credit card or BACS.
We offer the following flexible payment options on our modular programmes, see the individual programmes for more information.
What is ISVPS ?
International School of Veterinary Postgraduate Studies (ISVPS) is a not-for-profit organisation established in 2003 with the remit of accrediting veterinary CPD and awarding a range of Certificates on an international basis. ISVPS has extensive experience in the veterinary industry of providing assessments that assess knowledge and understanding for training courses that have been accredited by them.
If I sit and pass an ISVPS examination, will the RCVS include it in its register?
As the GPCert qualifications are new, there is no guarantee at this time that the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons will include the qualification in its Register. This does not, however, prevent individuals from listing the qualification after their name in their own documents or business notices.
Do I have to register for the ISVPS Certificate to attend a General Practitioner Certificate programme?
No. Many previous delegates have completed courses with no desire to enrol for a certificate and have benefited enormously.
When is the learning content available for each module?
- At the beginning of the month, the content for weeks 1 and 2 will be released
- At the beginning of the 3rd week of the month, the remaining content will be released
What additional learning resources are available?
- Online lessons
- Notes to support every lesson
- Reading list
- Module Tutor (diploma holder in their field)
- Programme Tutor
- Discussion Forum
What qualifications are needed for taking the programme if coming from another non- European country?
- Qualified veterinary surgeon registered in country of origin
- ISVPS will require appropriate paperwork at point of registration
Is the PgC programme recognised by other countries?
The PgC is worth 30 ECTS (European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System) credits but delegates are advised to check with their local governing body for the relevance of these credits in their country.
Can I do the GPCert and the PgC at the same time?
Yes, you can.
- If you register for the PgC you are automatically attending the modules required for the GPCert
- You need to register with both ISVPS and HAU
- ‘Upgrading’ from the GPCert involves paying the extra module fees, registering with HAU and arranging to select the 5 face to face modules – see other FAQs about booking these modules
- You can upgrade from GPCert to PgC within 5 years of achieving the GPCert award.
- If you have attended the SAM-DL course without committing to the GPCert, you have 4 years from completion of the course to register with ISVPS and SUCCESSFULLY complete ALL assessments including the examination.
What does the PgC consist of?
See the assessment criteria on the diagram of the route to a PgC in the brochure or on the website.
What does the GPCert consist of?
- Attend the full online structured programme
- Case report (2,500 words)
- Case studies (10 x 500-1,000 words)
- Multiple choice examination
- ISVPS are responsible for invigilation of the exam via TestReach an independent invigilation company
- See the assessment criteria on the diagram of the route to a GPCert in the brochure
Does the Postgraduate Certificate (PgC) programme differ from the GPCert?
Yes, there are additional assessment criteria. Delegates registering for the PgC with Harper Adams University will have access to all 20 modules online, including those they choose to attend face to face. See question below for further information.
When do the exams take place?
For up to date exam dates please visit www.isvps.org
Which modules do I choose for the PgC and when do I have to choose them?
- You select your preferred modules and a final selection is made in discussion with the Programme Tutor and on a first come first served basis
- Module allocation will be made within the first two months of the start of the programme to allow for travel plans
- Delegates opting into the PgC ‘late’ will be allocated modules within 2 months of registering with HAU
Please note if you wish to progress to the PgC there is an additional fee, please contact the Programme Tutor for further information.
How many hours per week will I have to spend on the programme?
- You will spend on average 10-15 hours per week on reading, preparing cases, forum interaction etc
Is the General Practitioner Certificate (GPCert) all online?
Yes the full programme to achieve the GPCert is all online
How do I submit my case report and case studies for the GPCert?
All ISVPS assessments are uploaded to the candidates’ area via the ISVPS website. You will be given a login to the candidates’ area when you register with ISVPS.
How do I pay the registration fees for GPCert and/or PgC?
- Registration is made directly to ISVPS and HAU – you will be provided with contact details allowing you to complete their respective registration forms.
- Fees are payable at the time of registration directly to the organisations.
- Ideally, the decision to aim for GPCert and/or PgC should be made within the first 2 months of the programme starting to enable delegates to benefit from the associated resources eg access to the ISVPS candidates’ area and HAU library access
- The deadline for the ISVPS certificate registration is one year in advance of the first assessment deadline e.g. If you are undertaking the 2020-2022 Small Animal Medicine Distance Learning Programme, you should register for the October 2022 examination.
- Your first assessment will be due on the 30th of June 2022 and hence your deadline for enrolment with ISVPS will be the 24th of June 2021. Should this deadline be missed, you will have the opportunity to enrol for the 2023 examination. The deadline for registration with HAU is the same, but registration cannot precede registration with ISVPS.
What do the case logs for the case diary consist of?
- Harper Adams University (HAU) will provide you with information on the peer-reviewed case diary and self-reflection essay assessments required for the PgC.
|A peer-reviewed diary of 15 cases seen by you in practice, not earlier than three years ago:
· Cases selected should demonstrate a balance of case types or procedures across species and where appropriate, across body systems;
· Cases should relate to the list shown in Appendix 4.
· Each diary entry should be a maximum of 100 words, comprising signalment, diagnosis, action taken (by you as the practitioner) and outcome.
|Peer Review: A supporting signature from a veterinary surgeon within your practice. Please see appendix 3 for a template. This should be present (scanned) on the final page of your diary.|
- Appendix 4 is available on request
Can I defer a module?
- Online modules cannot be deferred without losing the real-time interactive engagement with the Module Tutor
- Face to face modules can be deferred provided you complete all 20 modules within 3 years of beginning the programme
If coming from a non-European country – how would face to face module attendance work for the PgC?
- We will endeavour to allocate you face to face modules close together in date (eg within the same week -10 days) to reduce the numbers of trips to the UK required but these dates are restricted so you should be aware that you may have to make 5 separate trips as places will be allocated on a first come first served basis.
How are dogs sourced for ultrasound courses?
We have striven to make it as attractive as possible for people to bring dogs for scanning by offering a very generous £100 per dog ‘cashback’. This money is given as a bank transfer not as a discount to your practice off the course, or in vouchers (unless requested).
We have approached practices local to our venues and have mail dropped local residential areas seeking pets belonging to the general public and many of our staff allow their dogs to be scanned multiple times a week and month.
Ideally, we would like delegates to bring dogs with them – you are welcome to bring a friend or colleague’s dog so not owning one does not preclude earning the £100. We are happy to look after these dogs for you during the lectured component of the course and all of our venues are dog-friendly when overnight accommodation is required.
Some of the dogs (including our own staff dogs) are used very frequently due to our issues with supply. Some dogs just have an off day for no obvious reason. It benefits us hugely if these dogs have a positive experience during these courses so would politely remind all delegates that they deserve kind and patient handling at all times.
Will the dogs be sedated?
These dogs are not being scanned for any diagnostic purpose and consequently, it would be unethical to sedate them.
Will the dogs have any abnormalities?
We are only able to provide dogs that are ‘normal’ for scanning courses since the scanning does not take place in a veterinary clinic with appropriate facilities. We believe that being able to accurately identify normal ultrasonographic appearance is the most important part of learning how to scan dogs with abnormalities.
Are the dogs clipped?
We are very grateful to the owners of dogs who allow their dogs to be used. They are made aware of the benefit of clipping these dogs for scanning, but we cannot clip them without permission and sometimes have to choose between not accepting a dog for scanning where permission to clip has been denied and not having enough dogs for the scanning session. Many of the dogs who are return visitors have clipping declined on subsequent visits due to clipper rash after a previous visit. We find using plentiful amounts of water enabling the ultrasound gel to soak in by applying in advance allows non-clipped dogs to be used.
Are cats used for any of the ultrasound courses?
We consider it inappropriate to provide cats for ultrasound scanning due to the stress of transportation and restraint without sedation. We will not be providing live cats for any of our scanning courses/modules.